Singer Vic Chesnutt, 45, has died in hospital, according to a family statement.
Chad Batka for The New York Times
Vic Chesnutt performing with the violinist Jessica Moss at the Bowery Ballroom in October.
“It was only after I broke my neck and even like maybe a year later that I really started realizing that I had something to say,” he said in a radio interview with Terry Gross.
Vic Chesnutt ...Cult Hero Singer-Songwriter Paraplegic
"I didn't want to. I was fighting it." In the middle of his last tour, Vic Chesnutt ditched his band, fled across several state lines, filled his pockets with rocks, parked himself beside a motel pool, and for a week, contemplated suicide. Chesnutt, who, with the aid of the Nashville alternative country orchestra Lambchop, recently released The Salesman and Bernadette, his seventh album, obviously overcame the urge to take a dip. And like the young female protagonist in the Velvet Underground song, Vic Chesnutt's life was saved by rock & roll.
"The final straw which made me go, 'Okay, that's it. I'm gonna live,' was that I was sitting beside this Motel 6 pool and I had my door open and it was late at night and videos started coming on the TV. So, I'm sitting out there and nobody's around because it's like four in the morning, and I heard Cyndi Lauper wafting through the door. And she was belting it out -- one of those videos of hers, "Time After Time" or something like that -- and I thought, 'Ah, some things are good.' Isn't that odd that it was Cyndi Lauper who was beckoning me back?"
Odd? Understatement. But maybe it's apropos for Chesnutt, who on cursory inspection is a curiosity himself. A car accident at 18 left him bound to a wheelchair and with a mangled hand that makes his playing the guitar an accomplishment in itself. Yet, despite his physical condition, not to mention a gravelly voice, Chesnutt still manages to etch out strangely beautiful compositions.
"It's kind of an interesting aspect of me," he says. "People don't know too many people who broke their necks and are writing songs, and they want to know, 'Is this what drives him or not? Is this the central thing in his creative life?'"
The Georgia native claims the answer to both of those questions is an unadorned "No," and that his cloudy mental disposition was entrenched long before his body was marred.
"The big regrets have nothing to do with me. I look at the world and think, 'God, what a crazy world.' I think, 'God, it was so close. We could have lived with the Indians and not killed them all. That would have been great.' We were close, so close, right on the edge from realizing, 'No, you don't want to slaughter them.' We could have had a whole different world in the Americas. That makes me depressed."
~ Michael Bertin ~ Taken from the Austin Chronicle
His record label has an official statement:
Surrounded by family and friends, Vic Chesnutt died in Athens Georgia this afternoon, Friday 25 December at 14:59. In the few short years that we knew him personally, Vic transformed our sense of what true character, grace and determination are all about. Our grief is inexpressible and Vic’s absence unfathomable.